Packing List for Europe in Fall
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I think autumn is the best time to travel, especially in Europe. The crowds are thinner but the weather can still be beautiful. And you may also catch leaves changing colors and fun fall festivals like Oktoberfest!
Fall weather can be unpredictable. You may also be going to several different countries with different climates. Maybe you’ll be visiting large metropolitan cities, small villages, and rural countryside. All of these can require different types of clothing, and of course you need to be prepared for different types of weather from sunny and hot to cool and breezy or even rain.
The most common advice for this type of situation really is the best: layers. If you’re in a location that’s sunny you can wear the lightest and breeziest layer and for the coldest temps you can layer up all the clothing that you brought with you.
Whether you’ve traveled to Europe before or this is your first time sometimes it’s difficult to decide what to bring with you. And packing light can often be a challenge as well.
Packing for Europe in Fall: Weather
What to wear in Europe in fall? If you’re going to northern Europe in September through November you can expect extremely variable weather. Depending on where you’re going you could have beautiful sunshine every day or rain and wind. That’s why you should definitely bring layers.
If you are traveling to southern Europe like Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal you can likely look forward to lots of sunshine. But even so you should pack a sweater and jacket for windy days and chilly nights. In the north, weather can be lovely in September but October and on can get windy, cold and wet.
Packing List for Europe in Fall
Here is my typical packing list for Europe in the autumn. This list includes what to pack for one or two weeks in Europe.
- jacket – I recommend a light, packable down jacket or leather (faux or real) jacket
- 2-3 pairs of jeans or pants
- 3-5 tops, one of which is long sleeve and one that is dressy
- 2 dresses or skirts, plus 2 pairs of tights
- 2 sweater or sweatshirt
- cozy scarf
- 3 to 5 pairs of underwear
- 5 pairs of socks
- 1 or 2 bras
- workout clothing like leggings and sports bra for hikes or hotel gym
- swimsuit (in case of hot tubs or hotel pools)
- 2-3 pairs of shoes – check out these great walking boots for Europe
- cross-body purse or backpack – check out these 10 anti theft travel purses
- accessories like sunglasses, jewelry, hat, gloves
Packing Light for Europe in Autumn
As you might be able to tell from the above list, I always try to pack as light as I can. You might think it’s crazy to only bring three to five pairs of underwear and socks but I’ve done this on many trips.
Are you planning on traveling to several destinations on your Europe trip? Then packing light is definitely a plus. You won’t love dragging big heavy suitcases from your lodgings to the train station over cobblestone streets again and again. Plus your hotel or apartment might not have an elevator. Hauling huge bags up narrow and steep stairs makes you want to leave it all behind.
If you want to pack light I would recommend bringing a few items as possible and planning to wash them. I always hand wash my clothing in the sink and hang it to dry overnight. As long as you have at least three pairs of underwear that’s fine. If you feel like bringing more, underwear is small so it shouldn’t take up too much space. However, don’t go crazy – you can always do laundry at the hotel or apartment where you are staying.
Hardcore proponents of packing light recommend merino garments that resist odor and dry quickly. Check out these options for travel friendly undies:
The majority of European households do not have clothes dryers. Lightweight fabrics dry more quickly. Jeans can take a day or two to dry. Luckily you probably don’t have to wash them very often.
Packing for 2 weeks in Europe: Fall Wardrobe Tips
- Do you prefer Michelin star restaurants or street food – or perhaps something in between? That will dictate your packing wardrobe and style. I would definitely not try to wear sneakers, jeans or shorts to a fancy restaurant for dinner.
- Pack a simple dress, skirt or trousers for fancy places, unless you plan to only eat at casual restaurants. I would recommend to bring at least one dressier outfit just in case. Otherwise you should be fine with nice jeans in most restaurants, bars and cafes in Europe.
- In cities like Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and London you will see a lot of people wearing stylish outfits comprised of jeans and a leather jacket in the autumn. They might be wearing sneakers, but they will be clean and cool, not ratty old trainers from the gym.
- I think the most versatile women’s footwear in Europe for fall is short booties. I like chelsea boots and have several pairs. They are great with jeans and can even be worn with tights and a dress. Best of all they are comfortable and can easily go from casual museum visit to nice restaurant for dinner. Check here for some of the best walking boots for Europe.
- If you like to wear skirts and dresses, make sure you pack a few pairs of warm tights or leggings for Europe in the fall.
A scarf is always a good idea. I always pack a scarf. In the summer I’ll bring a light cotton one. In the fall you may want something a bit warmer. I love blanket scarves because they are so cozy, and they can look so stylish too over a coat. You can also use them as an impromptu head covering when it rains or a soft blanket on train rides or chilly evenings sipping wine on your hotel balcony. Here are some lovely scarves that would be perfect for your trip.
Best shoes for Europe in summer: I definitely recommend bringing comfortable shoes for trip to Europe in any season. Even if the places you are visiting do not have a lot of cobblestones, you’ll probably be doing a lot of walking and standing. In general, for a day of sightseeing you can get away with fashionable sneakers in most cities in Europe. Of course it’s also a matter of personal taste and the types of places you like to frequent. In fall, boots can be a good idea to keep your feet warm and dry. I like ankle boots like these chelsea boots. Here are some boots I like for travel in Europe.
The best jacket for Europe in fall is something that is warm that you can layer over dresses or jeans. In the autumn I live in my faux leather jackets and light down jackets like this one. Here are some of my favorite fall jackets. Check out these great raincoats too. You can also layer your jacket with a sweater or sweatshirt and top with a cozy scarf if the temperature drops.
Packing for Europe: Toiletries, Cosmetics, Medicines & Accessories
Hairdryers and other electronic tools: I would leave behind electronics like hairdryers and curling irons just because they take up so much room in your luggage and require voltage adapters. If you will be staying at hotels they should have hairdryers for your use. If you’ll be staying at Airbnbs or apartments then you can email ahead and ask if they have one.
Medications: If you take certain medications you should bring them with you and a few extras just in case. Make sure that they’re in the original bottles with labels if there any questions. I recommend to have them in your purse or carry-on so that there is no chance you will lose them in your luggage. (see below) If you ever have seasonal allergies I highly recommend that you take your allergy medicine with you. Why? It can be really hard to find antihistamines in some countries in Europe, and in some places you need a prescription for that type of medicine. If you are susceptible to tummy issues you might also want to have antacids, nausea or diarrhea medicines. You don’t need to bring the whole medicine cabinet, maybe just a few pills in case of emergency. Medications like aspirin and acetaminophen are easy to find, but I usually carry these with me at all times.
Sanitary supplies: You will also be able to find female sanitary supplies but I always carry them with me just in case I suddenly need them when the stores are closed for a holiday or on a Sunday. Murphy’s Law, amirite?
Jewelry: Costume jewelry can be an excellent way to dress up a simple outfit! And it can be fun to shop for trinkets like earrings while on holiday. Do you wear expensive jewelry at home? Leave it behind. The last thing you need is to panic because you left your diamond earrings on the sink at the hotel and then moved on to a different city. Just leave them at home.
Hat, Gloves & Scarves: As mentioned above, you will probably be glad that you packed a scarf on your fall trip to Europe. If you are traveling in the late autumn in the northern countries you may also want to bring a hat and gloves. A cute felt hat can be a wonderful accessory and serve to keep light rain off your face and hair. A warm wool hat could be a good idea in late October and November. If the weather forecast is extra cold you might be glad to have gloves. You can also pick up these accessories on your travels as a useful souvenir.
Cosmetics: Bring your most minimal makeup kit with you. Why spend lots of time on your makeup when you could be out enjoying your vacation?
Checking your Luggage?
I always say if you’re going to check your bag, plan to lose your luggage at least for a few days. That way if it does happen you will be prepared. Did you know about five out of 1000 bags are misplaced, lost or delayed? Around 50% of those occur when trips include connecting flights. Luckily 98% of bags are only mishandled or delayed and will be reunited with the owner within one to five days.
But one to five days without a change of clothing or your contact lens solution could be very annoying. That means packing into your carryon your medications, contact lens solution, an extra pair of glasses, a toothbrush, a pair of underwear… you get the idea. I also wouldn’t pack anything valuable in your checked luggage like your laptop, camera or anything with emotional value. Always bring that on board in your carry-on if you can.
Also keep in mind that major airlines are starting to charge extra for checked baggage even on long haul flights. And many of the lower cost airlines that you might take between cities in Europe charge for checked baggage and have strict rules about the size and weight of your carry-on. Be sure to double check the rules of any airlines you will use before you start packing.
To me one of the biggest reasons to bring only a carry on when possible is that inevitably you have to drag your bag on and off crowded trains, up and down stairs and over cobblestone streets. You could also consider a backpack instead of a rolling bag. Check out these travel backpack options.
Packing for Europe: Electronics
We can’t live without our electronics these days can we? We need our smartphones to get around and stay in touch.
Depending on your phone plan you may be able to use it in Europe for free or a small charge. Check with your provider. You also might be able to insert a local SIM card. Even if you won’t be using your phone’s cellular data you will find free WIFI at many cafes, restaurants, museums, trains and other locations in Europe. And of course now many people use their phones as their camera. So, you will definitely want to bring an external battery to keep your phone functioning. This one from Yoobao will charge a phone as well as a camera or other device.
Here are a few external batteries I like:
I also recommend bringing earbuds or headphones to listen to music, podcasts or museum audio tours. Here’s a pair of noise canceling headphones that are conveniently small.
I’m sure you’ve already thought of bringing a travel adapter for your electronics. Bear in mind you may need a multi-use one if you’re traveling to let’s say both London and Amsterdam, as they each use a different type of plug. Here is a colorful one that has four different plug options or here is another one that includes USB plugs.
If you are a shutterbug of course you will be bringing your camera. Don’t forget extra batteries, the charger and extra data cards. You might also want an external drive like this one to store photos.
Another option is to add a small removable external lens to your smartphone to snap creative and cool images.
Will you be bringing your laptop? Unless you need to work on the road, you might want to leave it behind for a one or two week trip to Europe. You will be sightseeing and out and about most of the time anyway. Consider bringing a tablet or ipad instead if you want to play online or watch movies on the plane.
Packing for Europe: Documents, Money and Credit Cards
Passports: Of course, don’t forget your identification! Make sure your passport is up-to-date and that it’s not going to expire soon. Most countries require that your passport is still valid for at least three to six months. Protect your passport from getting damaged with this snazzy cover!
Credit and debit cards: Don’t forget to call your credit card companies and let them know you’ll be traveling so that they don’t put a block on your credit card. This has happened to me multiple times and it can be a pain! Also it’s becoming quite standard now but if your card has a four digit pin and a chip you’ll be able to use it more places in Europe. If you don’t have this yet, check with your card provider.
Changing money: Depending on the fees from your bank, it is easiest and least expensive to simply access ATM machines at your destination rather than changing money before or during your trip. You may want a few Euros, Pounds or Kroner when you arrive at your destination to get a taxi or transit from the airport. But check ahead, Uber is popular in many European countries now. Most airports have ATM machines. Anyway, it is usually smart not to carry too much cash in case of loss or theft.
Always carry a photocopy of your passport in a separate location from your original. And actually more useful in case of an emergency is to have access to scans of your documents. I email them to myself so they are accessible in my inbox. That way if somehow you managed to lose all your possessions you would still be able to access a copy of your credit cards and identification as long as you could find internet.
Packing for Europe: Travel Goodies & Luggage
Here are a few goodies that might make your travel more convenient and comfortable.
Luggage lock: Will you be taking long train rides? Then this cable lock might come in handy. I wouldn’t leave your bag completely unattended but if you put it up above you on the shelf it’s nice to know that it’s locked there and no one can just walk by and grab it. Most of the trains are pretty safe but this could give you a little extra peace of mind. Just don’t forget to unlock it before you’re ready to get off the train, otherwise you could miss your stop while fiddling with it. 🙂 These locks are also useful in hostels. You might also like these 10 anti theft travel purses.
Travel pillow: On long flights and long train rides a travel pillow can really help you sleep. This convertible neck pillow from Samsonite can also be used as lower back support or foot rest! Great for shorties like me who never fit properly in seats.
Packing cubes: A packing system can help you travel more efficiently. I like these compression packing cubes as they allow me to fit a bit more in my luggage and keep my items organized. Even when I have plenty of space in my bag I love how the packing cubes help keep my clothing items from flapping around loose in my bag.
Foldable bags: Do you love shopping when you’re traveling? Bring along foldable tote bags or bags that expand to fit your purchases. Checkout this adorable croissant tote bag from Baggu.
Have fun on your trip!
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